The four deepest caves in the world are all found in the same region.
Source: Original photo by mihtiander/ iStock
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The four deepest caves in the world are all found in the same region.

Tucked away in the Western Caucasus mountains where Europe meets Asia is a hidden geological wonder. Thousands of feet below the limestone surface, enormous caves stretch downward like the hollow roots of some gigantic tree. Called the Arabika Massif, this area is home to the four deepest caves in the world, including the very deepest, Veryovkina. Would-be spelunkers may have to use their imaginations, though: The mountainous terrain is less than hospitable, and the caves themselves are located in fraught political territory. All are within the borders of Abkhazia, a breakaway state recognized by much of the world as part of Georgia but with increasing ties to Russia.

Early humans lived only in caves.
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Incorrect.
It's a Fib
Prehistoric humans are often pictured hunched over fires in caves, but caves were only one of many places they called home. The stereotype comes from the fact that caves do a great job of preserving artifacts — but that doesn’t mean they’re the top spot our ancestors lived.

The location of Arabika Massif’s limestone, its thickness, and its gentle slope toward the Black Sea create the perfect conditions for these huge caves, and the world record holder isn’t set in stone — pun intended. It was only in 2018 that speleologists (cave scientists) discovered that Veryovkina was actually deeper, at 7,257 feet, than its rival Krubera’s roughly 7,215 feet. Veryovkina may not hold onto its record forever, though, as speleologists plunge ever deeper into the world’s caves in search of unknown species and the secrets of Earth’s geological past. Yet based on the current rankings, it seems like a fair bet that the deepest-cave crown won’t leave the mountains of Abkhazia any time soon.

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Numbers Don’t Lie
Length (in miles) of Mammoth Cave, the world’s longest cave, in Kentucky
420
Birth year of Frank Welker, voice actor for the Cave of Wonders in Disney’s “Aladdin”
1946
Rough number of known caves in Missouri, nicknamed the “Cave State”
6,400
Issue of “Batman” that first referenced the Batcave
12
Animals that have adapted to live in caves are known as _______.
Animals that have adapted to live in caves are known as troglofauna.
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Think Twice
Many animals that live in caves don’t have eyes.

Vision is useless in most cave environments because sunlight can’t penetrate into the depths of these natural rocky fortresses. Evolution has thus slowly eliminated vision from many animals living in caves, sometimes by completely removing their eyes. For example, a variety of the blind cave fish (Astyanax mexicanus), native to Mexico, evolved to lose its eyeballs after leaving open waters for the comfort of limestone caves. Instead, these fish “see” by sucking in water and sensing the magnitude of the pressure changes as the water flows around them and surrounding objects. Other animals, like some amphibians, spiders, and scorpions, have similarly lost their vision as they’ve adapted to the gloomy interiors of their lightless world. 

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